Its food Friday! We are going to dive into nutrition and in todays blog the topic is the approach to change. Have you ever wondered why fad diets don’t work for everyone like they claim to do? I’m sure you have seen tons of articles on this very topic but I am going to introduce a different approach to explain it. First of all, we have to look at the promise or result that the diet is claiming to guarantee. Sometimes they will use scientific studies, jargon, client examples, or other tactics to convince you that this is the end all be all diet.
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Look at any magazine at your grocery store and you will see the same titles month after month, all promising the same crap. The truth? It may work for some people. Most of the time it will not because they fail to identify the individualized nature of change, or results. Each and everyone of us is different. I highlighted this in my last post when I wrote about developing exercise consistency. We are so different in terms of our daily lives, situations, surroundings, environments, stressors, people in our lives, and then you can get into the biological differences as well. Gut health, circulation, effects of exercise habits, nervous system stress, it goes on and on. Ok, so we are all different, so what?
Well, this is where true change and eventually results, are really born. Identifying your starting point, reasons for change, and barriers, is a great start. This is where the differences become even more contrasting for each individual. Once you have identified your starting point, reasons for change, and potential barriers you can begin the process of change. With a fad diet the approach is almost always the same. Overhaul and change everything, NOW. While this may actually produce short term results (which people love) it has a lasting long term negative effect for most. The term yo-yo dieting is exactly what’s going on here. Weight fluctuations up and down with every new diet out there. Overhauls produce results, that’s a fact. The problem that I hear the most though is that:
“I just couldn’t stick to it.”
“I felt great for the first little bit and then I felt terrible so I stopped.”
“I just went back to the way I was eating before.”
Too much, too fast, and not individualized. Thats the core problem with all of these diets. In fact, if its called a “diet”, its fundamentally a problem right there. It really suggests that it is short term. Lose the weight on this approach and then go back to the way you were eating because who would eat this way the rest of their lives right? Its too extreme. In the world we live in, people expect results now. In reality, it didn’t take you two weeks to gain 30lbs and it won’t come off that quick (in a healthy way) either.
So how can we get long term results? We focus on our daily habits and use results to gauge what we need to keep and what we need to change. We also focus on changing one, and only one, thing (or habit) at a time. The fact is that your success rate drops dramatically for permanent change when you attempt to change multiple things at once. This is because there are so many elements to factor in when you change ONE habit, let alone six.
Knowing what to change and when to change it is certainly not easy but can be done. First you need an understanding of energy exchange, macronutrients, micronutrients, and body awareness, as a start. If that sounds overwhelming a good place to start is to get educated. Check out the Nutrition Coaching tab on the home page. Get educated so you can be empowered and confident to make the changes you need. Understanding and having the knowledge is so important. If you jump into a change process blind you are setting yourself up for failure.
Once you know what your starting point is the first step is to pick ONE habit to change. All the rest can stay the same. Yes this is going to take longer than 2 weeks but its going to last a lifetime. In fact its probably going to take 2-4 months to fully implement all the change strategies needed. Maybe longer. Or maybe less. Your unique so I can’t say how long your journey is going to be. What I do know is that if you approach your nutrition as a lifestyle change and focus on the psychology of change rather than go after immediate results you will be successful.
Hopefully you are saying to yourself “Ok I get the habit part, it makes sense, but what about the results based stuff?”
This is where awareness comes into play. How do you feel after you eat? Are you bloated? Are you tired? Headache? Energized? It all means something. Most people eat and feel the same way for so long they start to live with discomfort and put it off as their “normal”. Change is about creating a new “normal”, and identifying the change you made to get there. Writing down how you feel is crucial if you are not an aware individual. At its simplest form, results based simply means; if its working stick with it, if its not ditch it. If you are only changing one habit then it becomes infinitely easier to identify if the thing you are changing is working. “I stopped eating salads and Im not bloated anymore.” Bingo! Your body doesn’t deal with raw vegetables very well and they end up going partially undigested, produce gas, cause discomfort, and make your belly physically look bigger. Couple all of those undesirable effects with the fact that you are not getting all of the nutrient absorption from the vegetables and you have yourself an issue. All of this from eating a supposedly healthy salad! Are salads unhealthy? Hell no. For that person they are less than optimal that’s for sure. A person with this issue would do much, much better with a stir fry rather than a salad. Cooking your vegetables changes the digestion load dramatically. But maybe it was just one ingredient in that salad that was the culprit. Thats possible too. Gets confusing right? It can be, but with effort and awareness you can sort out what your body likes and doesn’t like. Results based, habit forming change. Be patient and expect to work on things week in a week out. Thats how you do it. Until the magic weight loss pill comes out of course.